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Can You Thin Oil Paint With Acetone?

While painting with oil paints, you may need to use paint thinner to thin the paint, or even clean your brushes. But what happens if you noice you ran out of paint thinner? If you have acetone in your home, you might be in luck!

So, can you thin oil paint with acetone? Yes you can! It’s definitely possible to use acetone to thin your oil paints. You will have the best results from 100% acetone because it doesn’t have any added ingredients to it. While you might still have some luck with regular nail polish remover, there is still a chance that some of the ingredients won’t work with the paint.

You will want to use caution when using acetone to thin your oil paint. Like paint thinners and solvents, acetone has fumes that can be harmful to you. Always make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when using acetone with oil paint. Outside is best, but a room with adequate air flow will work as well.

How to Thin Oil Paint with Acetone

Thinning oil paint with acetone is a very easy process. First, make sure you have your space protected and work in an area with good air flow. If possible, work outside and wear a mask to protect your respiratory system.

Measure out the paint and the acetone. It is highly recommended to use one part acetone for every three parts of paint. Add half of the acetone to the paint and stir to mix completely. When the paint is mixed, you can add the other half of the acetone and mix again. This will ensure that the acetone is distributed evenly through the paint.

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Oil Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.

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For special offers and discounts, with my link you can also go to the Arteza website and shop their amazing products.

You should always test the oil paint on the surface before you cover the whole thing. This will give you an idea of how the paint applies and what it looks like when applied. You can then decide if the paint is thin enough or if you want to add more acetone to make it thinner.

What Can You Use to Substitute Oil Paint Thinner?

If you don’t have paint thinner or acetone and you need to thin your oil paint, there are a few different things you can do. There are several oils on the market that are much safer for you to use than these products, and you can manipulate your paint by using one that has the features you are wanting.

The most common way to thin oil paint without paint thinner is linseed oil. Linseed oil is often used as a base for oil paints, making it the perfect product to add as a thinner. It has qualities that make it dry quickly, so you don’t need to worry about it extending the dry time of your paint. 

I recommend using Winsor & Newton Linseed Oil. It’s a very reputable brand, and the linseed oil works great. Some of their products are even odorless.

Mineral spirits are another popular option to use in place of paint thinner. Mineral spirits are similar to paint thinners, but they aren’t exactly the same. Mineral spirits have a low odor and is made from distilled petroleum.

Is Acetone a Paint Remover?

Acetone isn’t technically a paint remover, but it does work to remove paint. If there is an oil paint spill that you didn’t notice until after it dried, acetone will be able to help you get rid of the stain, so it doesn’t remain permanent.

Abstract Painting

You will need to pour a small amount of acetone onto a clean cloth or straight onto the dried paint. Allow the acetone to sit on the paint for a few minutes to soften up and become easier to remove. The acetone will break down the oil paint from the surface that the paint spilled on and it will slowly peel away.

When a few minutes have passed, rub the paint spot with a cloth coated in acetone. You will notice the spot starting to dissolve after just a few minutes of rubbing. If you need to, switch to a clean part of the cloth or a new cloth if too much paint coats the fabric.

After you have all the paint removed, you will want to wash the area with soap and water to remove any acetone residue that was left behind. You will then be left with a clean area that is free of paint stains.

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You can also use acetone to clean your paint brushes after using oil paint. First, wipe off as much of the excess paint from the bristles that you can. You can do this with a wire bristle brush or a paper towel. Gently squeeze the bristles to get as much of the excess paint off as possible.

I use ARTIFY Oil Paint Brushes for my oil paintings. The quality is amazing, and they’re super affordable! I highly recommend this set.

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Pour some acetone into a glass or metal container. Make sure there is enough that you can dip the paint brushes enough to cover the bristles, but not the handle. Gently scrub the bristles across the bottom of the container to loosen the paint.

If the paint has already dried onto the paint brush, you can leave the brushes sitting in the acetone for a while to soften it back up. If you have a wire bristle brush, it will come in handy with removing dried pieces as they soften. You can easily brush through the bristles to remove the paint.

I like to use this Stainless Steele Cup to clean and store my brushes while I’m painting. It’s also great to soak them, and for mixing paints with solvents. Since some solvents don’t do well in plastic containers, this is definitely one of my top recommendations.

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When all the oil paint comes off the bristles, you can dry them off with newspaper or paper towels. This will absorb the excess acetone that is in the bristles of the paint brush. You can then wash the brushes with soap and water, squeeze the water out of the bristles, reshape them, and let them dry.

Can You Thin Acrylic Paint with Acetone?

You might not think it is possible to thin acrylic paint with acetone, but it is as long as you are careful. Acetone is very strong and can be too much for acrylic paint in some cases. If you do choose to use acetone to thin acrylic paint, the proper ratio is one part acetone to four parts acrylic paint.

A much better way to thin acrylic paints is with water or an acrylic medium. If you use water, only use distilled water. Always start with a small amount of water because you can always add more if you need to, but you can’t take water back out. 

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An acrylic medium is going to be the best way to thin acrylic paints, especially if you are a beginner. There will be instructions on the right way to use the medium given by the manufacturer. Following these instructions will ensure that you have the best results.

Final Thoughts

When you paint with oil-based paints, you need to use the right products to thin thick paint. If you don’t have paint thinner, there are some other options. One of the most popular substitutes is acetone because it is a product that most people already have in their homes.

When you thin oil paint with acetone, you will want to use three parts paint and one part acetone for the best results. If you end up needing more acetone, you can add a little more at a time. 

You can also thin acrylic paint with acetone if you are careful. There are better options for acrylic paint, like water or an acrylic medium, that will give you a nicer finish when you use them to thin your paint.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your oil paint project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

To view my personal artwork collection click here.  All of my artwork is one of a kind and comes ready to hang. You can also find my work at The Gallery SOHO, in the Pomona Valley Art Association.

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